Students receive high ACT scoresPublished 6:05am Wednesday, November 28, 2012
How would you change this sentence to make it grammatically correct? When x = 3 and y = 5, by how much does the value of 3×2 – 2y exceed the value of 2×2 – 3y? Which of the following best describes how the two scientists explain how craters are removed from Europa’s surface? What is one of the author’s main points about the legal concept of responsibility in the previous passage?
Questions similar to these may have your head spinning but they have been floating around in the heads of high school students everywhere as they have been preparing to take one of the most important tests of their lives thus far – the ACT.
The ACT, which originally stood for “American College Testing” but was shortened to the simple “ACT” in 1996, is a test where students are graded on five categories: English, math, science, reading and writing, and they can receive a possible 36-point composite score.
The ACT is also the foundation on which almost all four-year colleges base their admissions and their scholarships.
For example, to receive unconditional admission to the University of North Alabama, which is a popular choice for many local college-bound students, a student must have scored at least an 18 on the ACT test.
Those who further hope to receive any type of academic scholarship beyond their admission must have scored at least a 25 on their ACT.
Simply put, the ACT determines a great deal when it comes to a student’s collegiate future.
Knowing how important the test is, high school students who plan to attend college usually start taking the test early in their high school career with the hopes of attaining as high a score as possible.
For Russellville High School seniors Dylan Burbey, Joseph Butts, Logan Ezzell and Austin Martindale, their highest score just happened to be close to the top of the point scale with all four seniors receiving a score of 30 or higher – something that RHS guidance counselor Tiffany Warhurst said is quite rare for one class.
“Last year we only had one senior who scored above a 30 on the ACT out of a class of 181 seniors,” Warhurst said. “I would say what these boys have accomplished is a rare thing – we don’t normally see this many seniors score a 30 or above.”
She said another rare component to the boys’ scores is the fact that they are all involved in extracurricular activities at RHS.
“Logan and Joseph both played football, Austin plays tennis, Dylan is in the band, and they’re all involved in other clubs and sports as well,” Warhurst said.
“These boys have a lot on their plates and were still able to achieve these impressive scores. We are very proud of them and what they have accomplished.”
For Butts, who had a composite score of 33 on his ACT, his score was the result of many hours of studying and preparing.
“I’ve taken the ACT four times and the next to last time I took it, I got a 29, which is a good score, but I wanted to do better,” Butts said.
“I got some of the old tests and retook them over and over to see where I had gone wrong before, and I just studied the correct answers and different things that could be on the test before I took it again.”
Burbey had only taken the ACT one other time before he received his 30 composite score, but both Ezzell and Martindale said they took the test at least four times before they received composite scores of 31.
“The most important reason I had to score well on this test was that it would give me more options when choosing a college to attend next fall,” Ezzell said.
“The higher your score is, the better the scholarship offers are, and if I didn’t receive a good scholarship, I was looking at going to a smaller community college for at least the first two years because it wouldn’t cost as much.
“Now, I’ll have the chance to attend Auburn University and basically have my tuition paid for.”
Martindale, who has his heart set on attending the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, agreed that scholarship offers were the biggest motivating factor for him as well.
“I didn’t do a lot of studying specifically for the ACT but I tutor, so doing that helped me retain a lot of the things I needed to know for the test and kept me in practice for parts of the test like the math portion,” Martindale said.
“I knew most of the material so it was just a matter of taking my time and improving on what I had done before.”
Burbey, who plans to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said he also wanted to have better scholarship offers but he also wanted to know where he would stand against others who would be applying to the same colleges as he would.
“Part of my motivating factor for taking the ACT is because it is a way we can show our intelligence and a good indicator of the things we have learned and retained through our years of school,” Burbey said.
“The test is a good way for us to know what we’re capable of so we don’t short-change ourselves when we get into college.”
As important as the test is for a student’s future, Ezzell said one of the most important things to remember when taking the test is to remain calm.
“My advice to anyone still taking the test or who hasn’t started taking it yet is to just study the material and then don’t stress out about it,” he said.
“Once you’re in that room, there isn’t anything else you can do except read each question carefully, give the best answer you can, and take it one section at a time.”
Both Butts’ and Martindale’s advice was to take the test several times to improve the chances of having a high score.
“What I was always told was take the ACT early and often,” Martindale said.
“Start taking it as soon as you can and then take it as often as you can,” Butts added. “All that practice will be worth it if you get a high enough score that your college is paid for.”
Burbey said all the practical advice students receive may seem silly at the time, but it proves to be true during the test-taking process.
“Eating a good breakfast and getting plenty of sleep the night before really do play a big role in how you’ll perform that day,” he said. “Some parts of the test can get very tedious, and if you’re having a hard time focusing because you’re hungry or tired, it’s just going to make it that much harder for you to score well.”
Warhurst added that taking advantage of ACT prep materials and resources is always a good way to prepare as well.
“Thanks to our superintendent, Mr. Rex Mayfield, the school system now has a contract with USATestPrep.com where the students have access to many practice tests for the ACT and the graduation exam,” she said.
“These resources are free to the students and can be very beneficial when it comes to preparing for these important tests. All a student has to do is get a username and password from either me or one of their teachers and they’ll be able to access these practice tests.”
She said independent ACT prep consultants are also an option.
“There are people like Brannon Lentz who offer courses here locally on how to get the best ACT score possible,” she said. “And depending on how funding works out, we hope we can eventually offer some type of ACT prep course through the school that will help our students be successful when it comes to taking the ACT.”
Warhurst said this type of information was important for students and parents to understand, especially at this time of year when students are trying to get their college applications turned in.
“It’s never too early to start preparing for the future,” Warhurst said. “The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to succeed.”